Monday 22nd January 2018
Do you keep a diary? I mean a record of your days, rather than an appointment book?
I don’t, but I have tried to in the past, with very limited success. Like (I think) all school girls, I used to start a diary every January and confide my thoughts to it. These usually seemed to consist of lists of food I had eaten. The agony of ‘crushes’ on boys sometimes got a mention, along the lines of: ‘AB at rehearsals today. He didn’t speak to me, as usual.’ And: ‘Have just heard that AB is going out with Janet P!!!! How can he??? Went to the pictures with Ann. Ate a whole family sized bag of Revels. Why coffee Revels??? Ate them anyway.’
One entry reads: ‘Had my hair permed today!!! It’s not what I expected. Is in fact ginger frizz now. I look even more awful than usual and obviously cannot go to school. Wonder if Mum will let me stay at home until it is grown out??? Had beans and Angel Delight for tea. Watched Doctor Who.’ And later: ‘Mum says I need to sleep in rollers to get the perm to be curly not frizzy. This is absolute TORTURE, even the foam ones. Very disappointed. Look nothing like Frida in Abba!! Went round Ann’s and we had fish and chips from the shop.’ Then: ‘It is the school disco tonight and Mum says I am not allowed to wear makeup but I am taking eye-shadow and lipstick anyway!!’ Later: ‘School disco was V V V GOOD!!! Had a slow dance with MB at the end!!! Linda G went round the back of the pavilion with a boy from the 5th year!!! Had a drink of pineapple juice and a bag of crisps. AB not there.’
I never kept a diary going for more than a few weeks. My life was so tedious, even to me, I couldn’t face recording it for long. I am glad I did some entries though and I have kept them, along with my school reports and some hideously cringe-worthy poems I wrote as a teenager.
If I was to keep a diary now, I have a feeling it would once again degenerate into a series of lists. Lists of tasks to do/completed; lists of meals, seeds sown, knitting projects…but if we wrote truthfully in our diaries, what would we say? I am afraid mine would be along these lines:
Monday: Up V V early to drive to Manchester. Would be very sorry indeed to recount my feelings about this. Manchester, from where I have been absent for at least 13 happy years, is the place of my birth and early childhood. I then had an enforced reunion with the city and especially its neighbour, Stockport, when my parents inexplicably moved back up there. This baffling decision led ultimately to years of hospital visits as Mum became very unwell and infirm…client v nice. Odd canteen/cafe arrangement for staff, where I note they serve giant Yorkshire puddings, filled with mashed potatoes. I had the cauliflower soup, served in a tall polystyrene cup. Luckily I had a stash of emergency cold sausages and some carrot sticks. Consumed this secretively as was overcome with shame – why?
Wednesday: Unpacked a Christmas gift – a day-light, anti-sad lamp. I asked for this. I am hoping that it will alleviate customary profound January – March melancholy. I have it beside me now, as I type, bathing the left side of my head and shoulders with dazzling white light. Can this really work, I ask myself? Answer comes there none but so far I feel the same. Along with this, I am also taking turmeric tablets plus black pepper as said to convey almost magical properties of healing/illness prevention for almost all known conditions. Am I, as I strongly suspect, a shallow fool, easily lured into false beliefs? I will let you know, dear diary.
Friday: The highlight of my day is the menu planning, shopping list activity that I do every week. In this, I compile 2 lists. One is the week ahead in menu form. This is only for evening meals as even I cannot plan every breakfast and lunch. It is annotated with notes about who I am expecting to be at home, and any other activities that might impact the list. These are exclusively gym classes as am now v painfully aware that I have absolutely no social life and furthermore, actively do not want one. The other list is for Things To Buy This Week. I have audited the freezer and this informs me that I (still) urgently need to prepare a meal of soya-protein sausages (Q: why did I buy them? A: none supplied), plus frozen soya beans and other home-grown beans from the allotment. This seems too focused on soya and also beans. I write it down for Tuesday anyway, fully aware that come Tuesday I will be frantically substituting something nicer. Or that if I do serve it, there will be silent rebuke from the family as they balefully shove different incarnations of soya about their plates. Cheer myself up by brief audit of cleaning cupboard and toiletries cupboard. Note that my hoarding is now becoming critical. No-one, not even a professional cleaner which I certainly am not, needs 24 sponge scourers.
Saturday: Customary silent struggle with Self precedes attendance at the gym for 2 morning classes. I go, but am angry (unreasonably and pointlessly) with Self for going but also know that feeling of disappointment in Self if I shirk it will be far worse. Wish I had not worn patterned leggings when I accidentally see myself in the partially steamed-up mirror and am painfully reminded of the widening effect of geometric stripes. Note that I am, again, clearly the 2nd oldest person there. Am not proud of feeling of satisfaction when far younger, fitter and definitely more attractive class-mate gets cramp in the brutal Leg Session of BLT. Spend entirety of second class thinking about food. Decide definitely on a salad for lunch, enlivened by maybe some tuna. In the end, go to Asda and buy a tiger loaf with which to consume c1/2 lb of salted butter. Pop salad back in ‘fridge…
Sunday: Watch Netlix for far too long. Worry (but not enough to stop) that I am becoming addicted to programmes made by The Hallmark Channel. Definite softening of brain function appears to be side effect. Do not care. Have finally and absolutely abandoned any pretext of intellectual capacity, preferring instead programmes about Canadian Mountie and school ma’am sweetheart.
Monday: Am dismayed by appointment in diary, in my own hand-writing, committing me to a social engagement this evening that is not a gym class. Recall, yet again, that writing in dates when still weeks away confers a feeling that it will never happen, despite absolute certainty that I understand the concept of time. This will require me to get dressed in something other than pyjamas or gym clothes and actually leave the house. After dark. In January. Toy with brief and wild fantasy in which I go to Devon or somewhere not that far away, for a few weeks, starting today. But then cannot bear scenario which flashes through imagination in which the dogs pine away and die while I selfishly bury myself in countryside escape. So do go out with group of acquaintances. Spend evening in freezing corner of pub which is also so dimly lit I cannot really see and has such a low ceiling that conversation mainly eludes me, noise buffeting off the ceiling in booms. Am introduced to nice looking woman who I am told knits and crochets; mutual acquaintance tells nice woman that I am a knitting designer and teacher which naturally instantly causes NW to never speak to me again all night. Come home and sit by open oven door for half an hour. Decide once and for all that I will never go out again, except with family or to gym.
Tuesday: Go to village meeting this evening in village hall. In most un-motherly way, also force Lily to come with me. This is a crazy departure for me as I have only been in the village hall about 4 times, usually when bullied into something by Hilda. This meeting is about the imminent closure of the village Post Office which I very much regret. I attempt to get into the hall, but am brought to a sudden halt by vision of about 6 or 7 elderly people, wearing what I think are pyjamas or very baggy tracksuits, occupying entirety of hall, slowly moving arms and legs in manner observed on a programme once about old people in Japan. Naturally I assume I am asleep and dreaming, OR that I have the wrong day, but a man walks past and I realise the meeting must be in Another Room, Round the Back. We stumble round hall path in inky darkness and shove sticky door open hard, into elderly lady, and surge into a tiny room, packed with about 60 villagers only 2 of whom I recognise. Think that old Tai Chi people could have easily fitted in here and decline invitation to sit down so close to someone I might as well have sat on their lap. Realise at once that I am not in agreement with the main suggestion that we all BUY the existing PO and run it as a community venture but feel I cannot just walk out not least as exit now barred by further late-comers. Spend very uncomfortable and hot hour standing up, and imagining the viral soup which is brewing in the now fetid, slightly damp atmosphere. Sprint home, drenched in icy sweat. Agree with Lily that we will Not Join Committee as we have no idea how to raise money to buy and then run a PO. Not to mention slender time resources. Break soya-based meal news to family who become mutinous. I hastily substitute frankfurters but remain firm on question of soya beans. Not a success…
So you see, the passage of time has really not enlivened my life enough to make it worthy of record. If anything I think the school disco days were rather more fun. I’ll spare you any further insights – unless something really exciting happens such as turning out the apple store…